". . . and having done all . . . stand firm." Eph. 6:13


‘The Best Gift’: 20 Presidents Speak on the Bible and Christianity

February 20, 2023

On the rare occasions America looks to her history, the legacy media reports her presidents’ virtues and vices (real or imagined). Yet they purposefully omit American presidents’ firm conviction in Jesus Christ, the Bible, and the indispensable role the Christian religion has played in establishing, undergirding, and sustaining American institutions to this day. To remedy this oversight, we present the words of 20 presidents representing every epoch of U.S. history, from its founding to the present:

1. George Washington

“Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens. The mere politician, equally with the pious man, ought to respect and to cherish them. A volume could not trace all their connections with private and public felicity. Let it simply be asked: Where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths which are the instruments of investigation in courts of justice ? And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle. It is substantially true that virtue or morality is a necessary spring of popular government. The rule, indeed, extends with more or less force to every species of free government. Who that is a sincere friend to it can look with indifference upon attempts to shake the foundation of the fabric?” — George Washington’s Farewell Address, 1796

2. John Adams

“We have no Government armed with Power capable of contending with human Passions unbridled by morality and Religion. Avarice, Ambition, Revenge or Galantry, would break the strongest Cords of our Constitution as a Whale goes through a Net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious People. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” — Letter to the Massachusetts Militia, October 11, 1798

3. Thomas Jefferson

“[C]an the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are of the gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with his wrath? Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just: that his justice cannot sleep for ever.” — Notes on Virginia, Query XVIII

4. James Madison

“[A] watchful eye must be kept on ourselves lest while we are building ideal monuments of Renown and Bliss here we neglect to have our names enrolled in the Annals of Heaven.” — Letter to William Bradford, November 9, 1772

5. John Quincy Adams

“Why is it that, next to the birthday of the Saviour of the world, your most joyous and venerated festival returns on this day? … Is it not that in the chain of human events, the birthday of the nation is indissolubly linked with the birthday of the Saviour. That it forms a leading event in the progress of the gospel dispensation? Is it not that the Declaration of Independence first organized the social compact on the foundation of the Redeemer’s mission upon earth? That it laid the comer stone of human government upon the first precepts of Christianity, and gave to the world the first irrevocable pledge of the fulfilment of the prophecies, announced directly from Heaven at the birth of the Saviour and predicted by the greatest of the Hebrew prophets 600 years before?” — “An oration delivered before the inhabitants of the town of Newburyport,” July 4, 1837

“The Law given from Sinai was a civil and municipal as well as a moral and religious Code — It contained many Statutes adapted only to that time, and to the particular Circumstances of the Nation to whom it was given. They could of course be binding only upon them, and only untill abrogated by the same Authority which enacted them, as they afterwards were, by the Christian dispensation — But many others were of universal application—Laws essential to the existence of men in Society, and most of which have been enacted by every Nation which ever possessed any Code of Law. … The Law thus dispensed was imperfect, it was destined to be partly superseded, and improved into absolute perfection, many ages afterwards, by the appearance of Jesus Christ upon Earth.” — Letter to George Washington Adams, January 10, 1813

6. Andrew Jackson

“I was brought up a rigid Preseterian [sic], to which I have always adhered. Our excellent constitution guarantees to every one freedom of religion and charity tells us, and you know Charity is the real basis of all true religion, and charity says judge the tree by its fruit, all who profess Christianity, believe in a Savior and that by and through him we must be saved. We ought therefore to consider all good Christians, whose walks correspond with their professions, be him Presbeterian, Episcopalian, Baptist, Methodist or Roman Catholic.” — Letter to Ellen Hanson, March 25, 1835

7. Abraham Lincoln

“In regard to this Great Book, I have but to say, it is the best gift God has given to man. All the good the Saviour gave to the world was communicated through this book. But for it we could not know right from wrong. All things most desirable for man’s welfare, here and hereafter, are to be found portrayed in it. To you I return my most sincere thanks for the very elegant copy of the great Book of God which you present.” — “Reply to Loyal Colored People of Baltimore upon Presentation of a Bible,” September 7, 1864

8. Rutherford B. Hayes

“Now, the best religion the world has ever had is the religion of Christ. A man or a community adopting it is virtuous, prosperous, and happy. … What a great mistake the man makes who goes about to oppose this religion! What a crime, if we may judge of men’s acts by their results! Nay, what a great mistake is made by him who does not support the religion of the Bible!” — Diary entry, November 24, 1890

“The religion of the Bible is the best in the world. I see the infinite value of religion. Let it be always encouraged. … [T]he truth in it is one of the deep sentiments in human nature.” — Diary entry, November 24, 1890

9. William McKinley

“I assume the arduous and responsible duties of President of the United States, relying upon the support of my countrymen and invoking the guidance of Almighty God. Our faith teaches that there is no safer reliance than upon the God of our fathers, who has so singularly favored the American people in every national trial, and who will not forsake us so long as we obey His commandments and walk humbly in His footsteps.” — First Inaugural Address, March 4, 1897

10. Theodore Roosevelt

“The teachings of the Bible are so interwoven and entwined with our whole civic and social life that it would be literally — I do not mean figuratively, I mean literally — impossible for us to figure to ourselves what that life would be if these teachings were removed. We would lose almost all the standards by which we now judge both public and private morals; all the standards toward which we, with more or less of resolution, strive to raise ourselves.” — “On Reading the Bible: Delivered before the Members of the Bible Society,” 1901

11. Woodrow Wilson

“[T]his is a book which reveals men unto themselves, not as creatures in bondage, not as men under human authority, not as those bidden to take counsel and command of any human source. It reveals every man to himself as a distinct moral agent, responsible not to men, not even to those men whom he has put over him in authority, but responsible through his own conscience to his Lord and Maker. Whenever a man sees this vision he stands up a free man, whatever may be the government under which he lives, if he sees beyond the circumstances of his own life.”— “On the Occasion of the Tercentenary Anniversary of the King James Bible,” May 7, 1911

12. Warren G. Harding

“I must utter my belief in the divine inspiration of the Founding Fathers. Surely there must have been God’s intent in the making of this new-world Republic. Ours is an organic law which had but one ambiguity [slavery], and we saw that effaced in a baptism of sacrifice and blood, with union maintained, the Nation supreme, and its concord inspiring. We have seen the world rivet its hopeful gaze on the great truths on which the founders wrought. We have seen civil, human, and religious liberty verified and glorified.” — Inaugural Address, March 4, 1921

13. Calvin Coolidge

“[I]t is but natural that the first paragraph of the Declaration of Independence should open with a reference to Nature’s God and should close in the final paragraphs with an appeal to the Supreme Judge of the world and an assertion of a firm reliance on Divine Providence. … [I]t is no wonder that Samuel Adams could say, “The people seem to recognize this resolution as though it were a decree promulgated from Heaven.” No one can examine this record and escape the conclusion that in the great outline of its principles the Declaration was the result of the religious teachings of the preceding period. The profound philosophy which Jonathan Edwards applied to theology, the popular preaching of George Whitefield, had aroused the thought and stirred the people of the Colonies in preparation for this great event. No doubt the speculations which had been going on in England, and especially on the Continent, lent their influence to the general sentiment of the times. Of course, the world is always influenced by all the experience and all the thought of the past. But when we come to a contemplation of the immediate conception of the principles of human relationship which went into the Declaration of Independence we are not required to extend our search beyond our own shores. They are found in the texts, the sermons, and the writings of the early colonial clergy who were earnestly undertaking to instruct their congregations in the great mystery of how to live. They preached equality because they believed in the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man. They justified freedom by the text that we are all created in the divine image, all partakers of the divine spirit.” — “The Inspiration of the Declaration of Independence,” to mark the 150th anniversary of its signing: July 5, 1926

14. Herbert Hoover

“This civilization and this great complex, which we call American life, is builded and can alone survive upon the translation into individual action of that fundamental philosophy announced by the Savior 19 centuries ago. Part of our national suffering today is from failure to observe these primary yet inexorable laws of human relationship. Modern society cannot survive with the defense of Cain, ‘Am I my brother’s keeper?’ No governmental action, no economic doctrine, no economic plan or project can replace that God-imposed responsibility of the individual man and woman to their neighbors. That is a vital part of the very soul of a people.” — Radio Address to the Nation on Unemployment Relief, October 18, 1931

15. Franklin D. Roosevelt

“Almighty God: Our sons, pride of our Nation, this day have set upon a mighty endeavor, a struggle to preserve our Republic, our religion, and our civilization, and to set free a suffering humanity. Lead them straight and true; give strength to their arms, stoutness to their hearts, steadfastness in their faith.

They will need Thy blessings. Their road will be long and hard. For the enemy is strong. He may hurl back our forces. Success may not come with rushing speed, but we shall return again and again; and we know that by Thy grace, and by the righteousness of our cause, our sons will triumph...

Some will never return. Embrace these, Father, and receive them, Thy heroic servants, into Thy kingdom.

And for us at home — fathers, mothers, children, wives, sisters, and brothers of brave men overseas — whose thoughts and prayers are ever with them — help us, Almighty God, to rededicate ourselves in renewed faith in Thee in this hour of great sacrifice.” — A Prayer on D-Day (Radio address, June 6, 1944)

16. Dwight D. Eisenhower

“From this day forward, the millions of our school children will daily proclaim in every city and town, every village and rural school house, the dedication of our nation and our people to the Almighty. To anyone who truly loves America, nothing could be more inspiring than to contemplate this rededication of our youth, on each school morning, to our country’s true meaning. ... Over the globe, mankind has been cruelly torn by violence and brutality and, by the millions, deadened in mind and soul by a materialistic philosophy of life. ... In this somber setting, this law and its effects today have profound meaning. In this way we are reaffirming the transcendence of religious faith in America's heritage and future; in this way we shall constantly strengthen those spiritual weapons which forever will be our country's most powerful resource, in peace or in war.” — Statement by the President Upon Signing Bill To Include the Words “Under God” in the Pledge to the Flag, June 14, 1954

“Without God, there could be no American form of Government, nor an American way of life. Recognition of the Supreme Being is the first the most basic expression of Americanism. Thus the Founding Fathers saw it, and thus, with God’s help, it will continue to be.” — Remarks at the “Back-to-God” program of the American Legion, February 20, 1955

17. John F. Kennedy

“The same revolutionary beliefs for which our forebears fought are still at issue around the globe — the belief that the rights of man come not from the generosity of the state but from the hand of God.” — Inaugural Address, January 20, 1961

18. Richard Nixon

“Time has not dimmed, not circumstance diminished the need for God’s hand in all that America may justly endeavor. In times of trial and of triumph that single truth reasserts itself, and a people who have never bowed before men go gladly to their knees in submission to divine power, and in thanks for divine sustenance.” — Proclamation 4255 — Thanksgiving Day, November 16, 1973

19. Ronald Reagan

“Freedom prospers when religion is vibrant and the rule of law under God is acknowledged. [Applause] When our founding fathers passed the First Amendment, they sought to protect churches from government interference. They never intended to construct a wall of hostility between government and the concept of religious belief itself.” — Address to the National Association of Evangelicals, March 8, 1983

“Of the many influences that have shaped the United States of America into a distinctive Nation and people, none may be said to be more fundamental and enduring than the Bible. … These shared beliefs helped forge a sense of common purpose among the widely dispersed colonies — a sense of community which laid the foundation for the spirit of nationhood that was to develop in later decades. The Bible and its teachings helped form the basis for the Founding Fathers’ abiding belief in the inalienable rights of the individual, rights which they found implicit in the Bible's teachings of the inherent worth and dignity of each individual. This same sense of man patterned the convictions of those who framed the English system of law inherited by our own Nation, as well as the ideals set forth in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.” — Proclamation 5018 — Year of the Bible, February 3, 1983

20. Donald Trump

“I stand here today before this incredible crowd, this faithful nation, we can still hear those voices that echo through history. Their message is as true today as ever. The people of Poland, the people of America, and the people of Europe still cry out ‘We want God.’ … We put faith and family, not government and bureaucracy, at the center of our lives. … And above all, we value the dignity of every human life, protect the rights of every person, and share the hope of every soul to live in freedom. That is who we are. Those are the priceless ties that bind us together as nations, as allies, and as a civilization.” — Remarks by President Trump to the People of Poland, Warsaw, July 6, 2017

Ben Johnson is senior reporter and editor at The Washington Stand.